The Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer team won its second consecutive Division I regional championship with a 3-1 win over Dublin Coffman in a regional final Nov. 3 at Dublin Jerome.
The Patriots improved to 20-1 and advanced to play Mason in a state semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Bellbrook. The semifinal winner will play Aurora, Sylvania Southview or Westlake in the state final at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Crew Stadium.
Coffman finished 15-5-1.
Last season, Liberty defeated Coffman by the same score in a regional final and went on to lose to Cleveland St. Ignatius 4-2 in the state final. The Patriots defeated the Shamrocks 6-0 in an OCC-Central Division game Oct. 2.
“We’re a different team this year,” Liberty coach Rick Collins said. “It’s a lot of the same guys, it’s just a different mentality. A big part of that is because we’ve been here before. Last year, everything was new and I think we surprised ourselves as well as surprising everybody else. This year, we’re just a little more focused, a little more purposeful knowing that the state championship is within our grasp.”
Liberty opened the scoring with a goal by Zach Matheny, who received a corner kick by Thomas Gullo, dribbled toward the net and took a shot off that deflected off a Coffman defender past goalkeeper Trent Rantala with 21 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half.
The Patriots opened a 2-0 lead when Kyle Baum scored off a pass from Sam DeRoy with 18:13 remaining in the first half.
Coffman made it 2-1 on a penalty kick by Aaron Willis, who beat Patriots goalie Anderson deAndrade with 8:53 remaining in the second half. The Shamrocks were awarded the penalty kick when Liberty was called for a hand touch in its box.
The Patriots sealed their win, however, when Grant Fisher scored with 21 seconds left.
“We showed up to play today,” Coffman coach Steve Watts said. “We played better in the back. We knew our midfield had to play much better than we did the first time around -- win 50-50 balls, keep possession -- and, for a lot of the day, we did that. Just not enough.”
In regional semifinals Oct. 31, Liberty defeated Westerville North 3-1 and Coffman beat Gahanna 2-1.
BEXLEY 1, DOVER 0 (OT)
Senior Jacob Cini scored with 8:04 left in the first 15-minute overtime to propel Bexley to a 1-0 win over Dover in a Division II regional final Nov. 3 at Zanesville's Sulsberger Memorial Stadium.
The Lions improved to 14-3-4 and advanced to a state semifinal, where they will face defending state champion Dayton Carroll or Cincinnati Indian Hill on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at a site to be announced. The semifinal winner will play Bay Village Bay or Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian in the state final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Crew Stadium.
Dover finished 14-1-6.
“We had talked all game about trying to get around the corners and get numbers in front of the box,” Lions coach Greg Kullman said. “And finally we put a ball into a dangerous area and (Cini's goal) was just a great finish.”
Bexley, which won state championships in 2003 and 2005, had scoring chances throughout the game but had nothing to show for it at halftime and the end of regulation. Dover applied pressure in the Lions' end of the field early in overtime before Cini scored.
“I felt confident that if (Adam) Hirsch could get a ball across -- he’d been beating (Dover players) down the field the whole time -- we’d be able to finish,” Cini said. “I just followed along with him as he was running, he beats his guy, comes across, beats another guy and I’m like, ‘This is the one, I’ve got to get it in.’ This was our time.”
Bexley outshot the Tornadoes 20-5.
“We were on our heels a lot and we (expected) that going in since Bexley had a little more offensive firepower,” Dover coach Rod Simmons said. “We possessed well at times, but they were obviously superior.”
Bexley defeated Vincent Warren 3-0 in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Logan behind goals by Hirsch, Jacob Hodge and Will Gingery.
WORTHINGTON CHRISTIAN 4, BERLIN HILAND 2
Defending Division III champion Worthington Christian (10-5-3) erupted for three goals in the first half to turn away Berlin Hiland in a regional final at Zanesville.
Four players — George Miller, Albert Miller, Quinn Miller and Joe Long — scored for the Warriors, who will face Cincinnati Madeira or Cincinnati Summit Country Day on Wednesday at Crew Stadium.
The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this report.